Sunday, March 26, 2006

Beaches, The Esplanade, Balmoral

Beaches, The Esplanade, Balmoral
Sunday 26 March, 2006

Things did not get off to a great start at Beaches. I booked a table for brunch over 2 weeks ago. When I called during the week to discuss a birthday cake, they had no record of my booking. So, I made the booking again and then asked about bringing a birthday cake. I got passed from one staff member to the next before I finally spoke with someone who could assist me. They don't accept cakes so, I asked if they made cakes instead. There was a short delay before he stated they can do a cake for $55 then he said is that too expensive? Yes, was my emphatic reply. How about $45 he stated.

Sunday in Balmoral is always busy - it's a residential area so most of the parking is already utilised by locals. Beaches is located directly opposite the beach in a great location and it has a light and airy feel to it. We had an early booking and I wanted to settle the payment for cake upfront so it wouldn't appear on the bill - well you'd think I just asked them to solve world poverty (such were the puzzled looks I received). I paid as the staff member attempted to serve me and speak with another customer on the phone - no-one is that good and his attempt failed miserably.

We were seated and two different staff members came to the table to ask what name the booking was under. After 5 minutes or so we were asked to vacate the table as they had another table for us upstairs - it's much better upstairs he remarked - the view is better, it's quieter etc. Whatever....

Their breakfast menu is relatively short and surprisingly reasonable. I enjoyed the Poached Eggs Benedict with hollandaise sauce for $13.75 and my friends devoured their Blini Topped with Scrambled Eggs with smoked salmon, goats cheese & caviar; Open Omelette with field mushrooms, tomato & truffle oil; and English Breakfast with bacon, eggs, tomato, mushroom & toast. Everything came to the table beautifully presented and on different sized plates according to the meal.

The service was friendly when they were around - but there were three occupied tables upstairs and we were all searching for service at some point. Several times I almost got up and went downstairs to secure service.

When we had finished our main meals I motioned to the waiter that we would be ready for the cake in 5 minutes or so - knowing full well it would take forever, be prepared in the kitchen, brought to the table, Happy Birthday sung, cake cut & returned to the kitchen for plating etc. It took 25 minutes for the cake to arrive and one visit from our waiter with a sorry - it's on it's way.

The cake arrived with great fanfare and all the guests upstairs joined in with our rendition of Happy Birthday. After the candles were blown out and cake cut it was returned to the kitchen for plating - this took another 10 minutes - we were amazed to see they had literally cut the Bombe Alaska into four pieces. We each received a plate with 3 x the amount of cake on it. Not surprisingly, a large amount of cake went to waste.

When the bill arrived I was not surprised to see the cake was still listed - despite the fact I had paid for it earlier. As we deducted this from the bill our waiter came over very embarrassed and blamed the other staff for the over-sight.

Beaches has a great location and yummy breakfast options. The service is ad hoc which unfortunately lets the whole experience down.

Beaches - 51 The Esplanade, Balmoral - (02) 9969 7704


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